16 Feb Refreshing Your Website
Sharing those “Throwback Thursday” photos on Facebook is a lot of fun, if sometimes embarrassing. It can be tough to revisit our former selves and realize that our favorite looks no longer look quite as fresh as they used to. Times change, as do tastes, so we laugh, make a couple of rueful comments and pat ourselves on the back for making better fashion choices now.
Fashion changes not just in clothing and hairstyles, but in design and communication, too. Has your business website kept up with the current best practices in content and presentation? It can be hard to take a critical look at work that you put your heart into, but the website you built on Netscape Communicator at the dawn of the Internet age probably needs some freshening. Updating the look and content of your website is a necessary part of running your business. Here are a few things to consider as you evaluate the effectiveness of your website:
Whether you like it or not, social media have transformed the way we access and process information. The virtual world is a visual world, conveying meaning more and more through images and less and less through text. Does your website tell your story with too many words and not enough graphics? Are the images you’re using clear and arresting or murky and indecipherable? Do they explain your product or service or are they stock photos of standard-issue groups of people engaging in some unknown activity or using some generic item? Take the time to really look at the images you are using on your website and make sure that what you do or sell is their focal point. Making the effort to upgrade the quality of your graphics, including your logo, photos and buttons will pay off in increased website traffic, which in turn can drive sales.
How’s the navigation on your website? Do your action buttons take your customer where s/he wants to go (Home/Back/Cart)? Is it easy for your customers to compare products or do they have to climb out of one digital gopher hole and descend into another to get full information on two different products? While you don’t want the visual clutter of too much information upfront, neither do you want a website with details nested so deeply that the average customer gives up before getting to the important stuff like price, materials and terms. Make sure that crucial information is all in the same place for each product. Keeping your information in parallel locations simplifies the navigation process for your customers and helps them find what they need, making them more likely to get it from your business.
Resist the impulse to regard your business website as your own personal digital scrapbook. It’s not the place to keep images of and information about events that took place years ago and are not going to be repeated. That Friday night wine and new product trunk show might have been a lot of fun, but if it’s been two months since it happened, it no longer belongs on your website. If you have an archive of blog entries, consider a collapsing menu so older items naturally fall off the main page but are still available to readers.
An “about us” page is a great place for historical information about your company and its products. This should be a standalone page where your customers can find it if they’re interested. Your website is a great place, however, to tell your customers about events you have planned for the future. Add a sign-up page for the event and you’ve invited your customers to interact with your business.
While your website might be a place to sell discontinued products, you need to make sure that it reflects your most current product line. Culling your inventory and getting it out of view once it’s gone is essential to meeting customer expectations. There’s few things that damage your customer service than having to call a customer to tell them that the items they thought they ordered are no longer in stock.
Is your website integrated with your social media accounts? Your customers should be able to follow you on Facebook, Instagram, Ravelry and Pinterest and get to your website. Your posts on those various media should show up on your website, perhaps in a sidebar, as an automatic update, keeping fresh content on your website. The same thing applies if you blog as part of your business. Whatever blogging platform you use, it should appear at least as a link on your website, if not as featured content.
Don’t fret. We know there’s a lot of work behind each one of those suggestions, and that’s a lot of balls to keep in the air while you’re juggling all your other responsibilities, too. While it’s tempting to view your website as “done” once you’ve gotten it up and running, it is always a work in progress. Don’t let it gather virtual dust while you’re busy doing everything else you do to run your business. If you’re don’t have your own in-house digital communication and marketing team, let us help you. We offer craft companies a free audit of your website and can give you a list of what is confusing or could be updated. Contact Leanne@stitchcraftmarketing.com to find out more.